Lord Baker hopes to open launch specialist schools offering training in digital technology, construction, catering and healthcare

Proposal for 'career colleges' linked to local employment

A former education secretary wants to set up "career colleges" training young people in vocational skills linked to local employment.

Former Conservative minister Lord Baker hopes to launch specialist schools offering training in digital technology, construction, catering and healthcare to 14 to 19-year-olds, as well as ensuring students also study English, maths and science at GCSE.

It follows the success of 17 university technical colleges in the UK which allow GCSE pupils to specialise in science, technology, engineering or maths, promoted by the Baker Dearing Educational Trust set up by Lord Baker.

The Tory peer told the Independent that offering tailored education to prepare young people for vocational work in local industries will reduce youth unemployment.

"We have one million young people unemployed and are issuing visas to people from overseas who have the skills we need; it is about time that we filled this gap with our own young people," he said.

"By starting at 14, youngsters have a head-start in preparing for the world of work as they do in Austria, Denmark and the Netherlands, where youth unemployment is much lower.

"The over-arching goal for a Career College is that every young person when they leave at either 16 or 19 will be in work, training or education."

Lord Baker told the newspaper that the Trust already plans to open a Digital and Creative Career College in Oldham next year, after the BBC moved a large part of its broadcasting services to Manchester.

It would be followed by the Bromley Food & Enterprise Career College, because hospitality is the third largest sector for jobs in south-east London, he added. However a Whitehall source said there is "a long way to go" before the colleges become government policy.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "These are proposals from Lord Baker. It is not government policy".

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